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I am an avid outdoorsman with experience in naturalist education, outside adventure education, ski instruction, and writing. In addition to my outdoor hobbies, I’m a huge fan of punk rock. I have launched several start-ups. (or business ventures) When exploring the backcountry, I usually carry less than 10 pounds of gear. Years of experience have taught me to pack light. I enjoy sharing my experiences of backcountry education teaching and guiding through writing.


The one addition I’d like to see made to this is a clip to hold the wheel straps out of the way when putting the bike in place. You can tuck them behind the wheel mount, but I found they would often flip back over and get in between the tyre and the mount meaning you had to put the bike down, tuck the strap out of the way again before picking the bike up to put in place. Not a big deal, just mildly annoying.
For us, the roof rack that fits us the best is the Thule Hullavator Pro Kayak Carrier. It is probably the most complete roof rack on the market at the moment. We rate it 5 out of 5 stars as we could not find anything to complain on. It comes from a top rated manufacturer and can be adjustable to pretty much any kayak size. Moreover, it makes loading a matter of seconds and can take heavy boats as well.
Two areas of caution: These boats on their sides create a high profile and resistance. If your speed is 70 and you have a head wind of 20-30 (as we did) that's the same as 90-100...a bit much; I'd keep air resistance to 75 or so combined maximum. If the wind is to the side you'll feel strong buffeting at times, slow it down. Without wind we felt comfortable at 70. Kayaks were strapped according to instructions around J and under factory cross bars. Also had bow and stern tie downs to prevent sliding forward or aft.
The Thule system is not as stylish-looking, and makes slightly more wind noise, but it stays on the car much better! I experienced catastrophic failure of my Yakima Q-tower system flying off my 2008 Honda Civic, and my wife's 2000 Honda CRV. So far, I've heard the same story fron eleven other people who drive low-profile, sleek vehicles without factory racks. Yakima's Q-clip system attempts to fit multiple cars with common clips that just don't work. Their tower system gradually loosens itself over time. Yakima will also put you through hell trying to warranty their product. Thule makes a custom clip for every car, with all metal (ugly but functional) tower pieces- if you like your gear in one peice, avoid Yakima at all cost!
Seeing a full-on roof rack bolted to the top of an overlander or SUV shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. For more modest sedans, however, they look a tad out of place. Which is why the Yakima Round Bars make a great alternative. You won’t be carrying fully stocked coolers, kayaks and mountain bikes all at once with your four-door anyway, so there’s no need to go overboard. “We have been using Yakima Load Bars and Storage Boxes for years, both for ski and bike trips, and now even for rooftop storage on our Four Wheel Campers. The Yakima system is proven, classic and adaptable for smaller cars.”
If you already own parts or just want a complete set of used roof bars, then use the roof bar guide to find your vehicle, then at the bottom of the page, if we have used equipment available. you will be able to order separate items. Do note even though you have some parts always double check that you have the right length of bars and foot pack. To do this just look at the relevent package options, we list the items in that package that you will require for that vehicle.
If you’re looking for a serious overland adventure or #vanlife upgrade, the Aluminess Roof Rack is the only way to go. It handles any gear and cargo you can think to throw up there. Moreover, outfits like Main Line Overland can customize it to fit A/C units, solar panels and satellite TV. “A full-length Aluminess Mercedes Sprinter Roof Rack is highly customizable and provides a massive amount of storage capacity. The optional side ladder makes it easy to mount the walk-on roof for strapping on loads and enhancing your perspective at roadside stops. You could probably even host a Bushwick rooftop party on one of them.”
I don’t get this comment. With the square bars you just clamp anything straight on. With the slots you have to faff about with the plastic strip in the slot don’t you (ie. cutting it to the right size, slotting bits of it in and out in the right combination for whatever you’re putting on). Or do people not use the strip. I’m not trying to be augmentative BTW, genuinely interested I currently have square bars but am considering aero/wing bars for an imminent car change.
There are a few other things that are important to me, and no doubt many of you will have your own requirements depending on car and lifestyle. I for example like a rack that won’t take up much space when off the car – which pretty much rules out boot or tow bar mounted racks. I’d also rather leave it in situ for most of the time due to the amount of use.
Wobble – At speed your front wheel will wobble. I doubt you will stop all of the wobbling. However you want the frame NOT to wobble much at all. In my opinion this design is better at wobble control than the cheaper FreeRide (then again, I’ve used the FreeRide for over 10 years on motorways, admittedly with occasionally worried glances up through the car’s sunroof)

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On the other hand, it is very easy to use, with a pair of ratchet arms that securely lock the bike during transit, and are very simple to use – they also have a pretty wide loading range, and can accommodate up to 59cm frames. They also have a good load capacity of up to 35 pounds per bike position, which should be more than ample for the vast majority of bike types.
This review is of a Thule roof rack fit to my 2011 Mazda3 Sport. Its a basic rack and if installed with care, stays put. The load limit is 100 lbs, so pack with care if you also use a roof box - I've weighed each piece of my gear to and the box itself to make sure I stay within the limits. The rack itself is cheap and works as its supposed to. The only thing I would like is a torque specification so that I don't over tighten and get the dreaded "oil can" popping sound of my roof being compressed (I heard that happen to someone else once, not pleasant). Oh, and I put some 3M protective film down on a clean roof to prevent any paint damage from the foot pads. It looks crappy if I'm not careful wiping away wax, but will protect the paint.
On the other hand, it is very easy to use, with a pair of ratchet arms that securely lock the bike during transit, and are very simple to use – they also have a pretty wide loading range, and can accommodate up to 59cm frames. They also have a good load capacity of up to 35 pounds per bike position, which should be more than ample for the vast majority of bike types.
On your car roof, one these 3 alternatives will most likely be possible: a bracket specific to your roof shape that clips into the door frame: attachments for a dealer installed roof rail; OR a T-track. This review assumes that you have already figured out how to get two roof bars on your car roof – and that can be somewhat convoluted if you have an unusual car, good luck!
Part conservationists, part outdoorsman, part storyteller, Matt has devoted much of his life to environmentalism and that crafty, fleeting mistress known as writing. Having worked with over two-dozen brands and lifestyle publications, he’s carried out his passion for all things flora, fauna, and fiction through a litany of written mediums — one adventure, one sentence at a time.
These are ideal if you are carrying kayaks or bikes and know that lifting these into the centre of the roof will put a strain on your back. They're almost essential for safe loading on tall and / or wide vehicles. The bars slide out so you can load, for example, two bikes on the left side of your vehicle, then slide them the other way and load two more on the right. They're brilliant.
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